Holly Henderson knows just how hard it is to bring manufacturing back to Buffalo.
The Western New York native runs Simply Natural Clothing, a sustainable clothing line that uses American-sourced alpaca and merino wool. Henderson started the business with the help of the state-wide program StartUp NY. It gives tax breaks to start-ups that are willing to partner with a New York State college. She heard about it three years ago.
"I immediately thought this was something I wanted to get involved with," Henderson said.
After getting approved for the StartUp NY program, Henderson landed a partnership with Canisius College. Simply Natural Clothing uses space within the college’s Women’s Business Centre to 3D print the seamless knitwear, and in turn Henderson gives students an opportunity to intern with the company. However, while StartUp NY got Henderson’s company off the ground, the challenge now is recruiting talent that can help her grow the business. The 3-D printer is highly advanced technology.
"What we're doing is so new and there's not a lot of people that are skilled in these areas in Western New York," she said.
Henderson is hoping for support from the private and public sectors. She recently joined the Business Council of New York State.
After spending two decades in Manhattan teaching design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Henderson is determined to make this knitwear business an international success. Simply Natural Clothing is being sold online and in some stores throughout Western New York. Her ultimate goal is to help build a robust fashion industry in the region.
"There's a fashion industry in New York City, but I believe that we can really build back fashion manufacturing here in Western New York again."
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